Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 Stereowise Plus Editor's Choice Awards

2011 has been a good year for some great products. We have seen a lot of different products come in for review. Some are not award worthy. Many are. And many have received our Value, Recommended, or Highly Recommended Awards. But only the best earn our Editor's Choice Award, and make it to the list. Great job, and I hope to see many of you on the same list for 2012! The recipients are:
Alpine Type-X SPX-13PRO Component Speaker System
Asus Xonar Essence STX Sound Card
Asus BW-12B1LT 12x Blu-ray Burner
Asus EAH5850 DirectCU TOP Video Card
Asus Sabretooth P67 Motherboard
AudioControl DQXS 6-Channel Digital Crossover and EQ
Audio-Technica ATH-A900 Audiophile Closed-Back Dynamic Headphones
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Premium Stereo Headphones
Bryston 9b SST2 5-Channel Home Theater Amplifier
Diamond Audio D6 12" DVC Subwoofer
German Maestro GMP 8.35D Monitor Headphones
Intel i5-2500K Quad-Core Processor
ION Drum Rocker Premium Drum Set
Kenwood Excelon DNX9980HD 2-DIN AV Navigation System
Kicker iKick iK501 iPod Dock
Kicker KMT60 Marine Long-Range Speaker System
Otterbox Defender Series Cases
RBH Signature SX 5.1 Surround System Review
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Tablet
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Keyboard Dock
Sigma BC2209 Targa STS Bicycle Computer
Vibe Audio BlackDeath Bass 1 Class GH Subwoofer Amplifier
Westone 4 In-Ear Monitors
ZVOX Z-BASE 580 Soundbar
2011 has been a year of great products. Kudos to all of you. We look forward to discovering what wonderful products are in store for 2012. From the staff at Stereowise Plus, many thanks, and a Happy Holidays!
Jeff Roy
Head Wiz and Editor

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kicker KMT60 Long-Range Tower System Marine Speakers Review

Up for review today is a pair of marine speakers from Kicker, their KMT60 Long-Range Tower System. We like to be able to listen to music wherever we go. Out on the lake is no different. While it is a lot of fun on the lake, it is even more fun with our tunes.
The marine environment is a bit different. Boats tend to be loud, and also open. So designing a speaker for the marine environment, it should be able to play loud as well. Typically, you can design speakers to do that a couple of different ways. First, you can design a speaker to be extremely energy efficient. That means it can play louder with less power. So for example, a common speaker efficiency rating is 85db. A speaker that is rated at 88db will be able to play just as loud with half the power. The next way is to design the speaker to handle high power. The more power you give it, the louder the speaker can play. The Kicker KMT60 Tower System is actually designed with both in mind, thanks to the MTM design (midwoofer-tweeter-midwoofer). They are extremely efficient, and can handle a lot of power. So whether you are drifting, or tearing down the lake at 50 miles an hour, your tunes will be heard.
Their features and specs include:
Let's you "live loud" 50 ft. from your boat
Can also be used as patio speakers
Stainless steel hardware
5 way binding posts
Fits seven different diameter wake board tower pipes
Removable grilles
Removable front baffle for flexible mounting
Type: 2-Way
Woofer (in., cm): 6-1/2, 16.5
Tweeter (in., cm): 3/4, 2.0
Tweeter Horn (in., cm):2x6-1/2, 5.1x16.5
Max Rec Amplifier Power (watts PEAK/RMS)*: 300/150
Sensitivity (dB 1w/1m): 93
Frequency Response (Hz): 50-21k
Standard Dimensions (in.): 19-1/16W x 9H x 11D
Metric Dimensions (cm): 48.4W x 22.9H x 28D
The Kicker KMT60 Tower System came well packaged and double boxed, so they were well protected. Opening their box revealed your typical molded styrofoam to the shape of the speakers. They are designed to mount on the wakeboard of a boat. Accessories included are the metal mounts that wrap around the wakeboard and attach to the speakers. And then there are several inserts that go between the mounts and the bar. Many of these wakeboard bars have a chrome finish, so the inserts protect the finish of the bar.
Build quality was also very good, with excellent fit and finish. The box was a black plastic that felt solid. The front showed off its dual 6" midbass drivers, and a horn tweeter in the middle of the two midbass drivers. The midbass drivers also had a plastic grill mounted over each one, to keep them protected. The binding posts on the rear at the enclosure was also of high quality, and twisted down to hold the wire in place.
I also like the design of the Kicker KMT60. The tweeter in the middle of the two midbass drivers is a great sounding design. Horn tweeters can be loud, and also gets extra protection with the actual driver being deep in the horn. There was also a small cloth filter for further protection from the elements. The sleek enclosure is pleasant looking, and sealed for further protection from the elements.
I thought I would start out with some great vocals with the Eagles: Take It Easy. The vocals had great timbre and harmonics without any coloration....very smooth sounding. The cymbals and percussion were nice and crisp without being too harsh. The imaging was excellent!
Next up was Metallica: Nothing Else Matters. I love this track for testing out a tweeter with the strings of the acoustic guitar in the beginning of the song. The horn tweeter did a phenomenal job! The guitar came thru really crisp and clean. And when all the other instruments kicked in, the KMT60's really showed off their dynamics and midbass punch.
Since it is the Christmas season, I thought I would finish the listening test with some Mannheim Steamroller: God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman. Since my Kenwood Exceleon DNX9980HD reference receiver can handle DVD's, I used a DVD for it's higher resolution. WOW! The resolution and detail was phenomenal! The soundstage was excellent and imaging was spot on. The horns were smooth yet not brassy. And the midbass from the drums had great extension, pitch definition, and played with authority.

When it comes to marine speakers, they don't get much better than the Kicker KMT60 Tower System. The fact that they come in their own enclosure, you know they will sound good in your install. And while they are categorized as marine speakers, they can be used in any recreational vehicle, such as an ATV, or just out on the patio. Based on their features, design, and performance, the Kicker KMT60 has earned our Editor's Choice award. Their MSRP of $600 may seem a little high to some, but you do get what you pay for. And they do sound great! For more info and complete specs, check out their website at Reference gear included Kenwood Excelon DNX9980HD receiver, Vibe Audio Black Death Bass 1 sub amp, Vibe Audio Litebox Stereo 4 amp, and dual Diamond Audio D6 12"subwoofers.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Coby MP957 HD Video & MP3 Player Review

When it comes to MP4 & MP3 players there are a lot of options out there. In our economy, it is easy to look for value with a lot of features. The Coby MP957 is one such device. It is a MP4 & MP3 player at heart, but it does more, such as an e-reader.
It's features and specs include:
Memory Included: 4GB
Memory Type: Flash Memory
Max Built-in: 4GB or 8GB (optional microSDHC)
Display Size: 5.0 Inch
Display Type: Color TFT LCD
Display Resolution: 800x480
Audio Input: 3.5mm Headphone Terminal
Audio Output: Integrated Stereo Speakers
Video Output: Mini HDMI - Type C (max 1080p) 3.5mm
Component Video (max 1080p)
USB Port 2,0 Hi-Speed
Audio Format Support: MP3, WMA
Video Format Support: MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG-4, H.264, H.263, WMV
Photo Format Support: JPG, GIF, BMP, PNG
OSD Menu Languages: English, Spanish, French, German
Certifications: CE, FCC
AC Adapter and Charger: (DC 5V)
Battery Type: Integrated Rechargeable Lithium Polymer
Battery Capacity: 1600mAH
Unit Dimension: (WHD) 3.33" x 5.04" x 0.54"
Package Dimension: (WHD) 7.24" x 5.63" x 2"
The Coby MP957 came well packaged with all the accessories needed, such as power cable, manual, and earbuds, carry case, USB cable, HDMI cable, and remote control. The fit and finish was nice. Quality appeared good. It had a good heft to it, and felt solid. The screen was not a touch screen, but it had good saturation and resolution, and overall looked pleasant.
The layout of the device was also well thought out. Inputs and outputs were on both sides. The right side had the headphone jack, video out, micro SD card slot, and volume up and down buttons. The left side had the HDMI out and USB. The top of the device had the power/play/pause button, esc., forward, backward, and menu buttons. On the back were the pair of built-in speakers. On the bottom was the IR sensor for the remote control.
The Coby MP957 was easy to use and performed well. The movie settings allowed you to watch movies on your device in DVD quality. The photo mode was what you would search though the photos shared on the device, and you can even set it to do a slide show. The same was true for modes for radio and e-reader, which is where you would go to listen to the radio and read documents. You could manage your music by genre, artist, album, or rating, and also save your favorite radio channels. The Coby MP957 even allows you to play music while watching a slide show of your photos.
Performance of the Coby MP957 was good. Video and photos looked good. And with the video out, you can watch up to 1080p on your big screen. Using the e-reader worked ok. You could zoom in to make the text bigger, but it would not save from page to page. It worked for pdf files, but not for full e-books and us not compatible with Kindle or Nook. Music sounded pretty good stored on the Coby MP957. The Coby MP957 did not have a built in fm or am antenna, like most mp3 players. Instead, it uses the earbud/headphone cable as the antenna. It's radio tuner was not overly impressive, but did work as well as expected for a small device. I also did like the fact that the Coby MP957 also has a built-in calendar.
The Coby MP957 proved to be a great little device that provided a lot of bang for your buck. And with an MSRP of $109.99, this player is and excellent value. Based on it's design, features and performance, it has earned our Value Award. For more info and complete specks, check out their website at

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Coby Snapp HD Cam5002 HD Camcorder Review

There are a few things that you can always count on: death, taxes, and prices on electronics going down. Up for review today is the Coby Snapp HD Cam5002, which is an example of that last fact. I remember when an HD camcorder cost over $500. While the Coby Snapp HD Cam5002 does not have many of the fancy feature of a full sized camcorder, it still does HD video. And it does it at a retail price of around $49.99.
The features and specs of the Coby Snapp HD Cam5002 include:
Memory Type: Flash Memory Max 32MB
Flash Hard Drive Type: SD card/SDHC-compatible, max 32GB
Display Size 2.0
Display Type: Color TFT LCD
Connections:Audio Output Integrated Speaker
Video Output: HDMI / 3.5mm composite video
USB Port: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (integrated plug)
Video Sensor: CMOS Media/Format Support
Video Format Support: AVI (Motion JPEG), HD (1280x720) @ 30 fps, VGA (640x480) @ 30 fps
Photo Format Support: 5.0 MP (2592 x 1944)
Additional Functions: LED Light Certifications CE, FCC
Battery Type: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery (removable)
Unit Dimension: (WHD) 2.2" x 4 4" x 0.7"
Package Dimension: (WHD) 6.7" x 9.65" x 1.75"
Packaging was a typical cheap plastic box that also showed off the camcorder, so shoppers can see it. Included accessories comprised of a cloth case, hand strap, manual, charging cable/video cable, software CD, and a rechargeable battery. I was a little surprised with the lack of a dedicated charging cable, but it was not necessary. Included is a USB cable to upload video to your computer, and it doubles as your charger.
Fit and finish was sufficient. The plastic body was as expected at it's price point. It seemed put together well. On the back is the color LCD display, navigation buttons, mode and trash buttons. On the bottom is the threading so the Coby Snapp HD CAM5002 can be attached to a tripod. On one side is the power button as well as connections for HDMI and audio/video cable. On the other side is the SD memory card slot and the button for the USB connection. I thought the design of the USB charger connection was pretty cool. It is hidden in a small compartment at the top of the camcorder which is spring loaded. So when you push the button down, out flips the USB charger connector from the top of the device. The front of the device houses the rechargeable lithium-ion battery compartment, the microphone, speaker, and lens.
I liked the small size of the devise. It is small enough to carry in your purse of pocket. It also included 32MB of on board memory. That really isn't enough to record video on the included memory. You can only record around 20 seconds worth of 720p or double that for recording in VGA. But 32MB is big enough to be able to take several pictures. It can save 17 at 5MP, 28 at 3MP, and 69 at 1MP. Pressing the trash button will also take you into the settings menu.
Performance of the Coby Snapp HD Cam5002 was about as expected at its price point. The battery is only 800MAH, so using it record a 2 hour long concert won't work. But using it to record your shorter precious moments works great. The colors came out ok. And while the video was a tad jittery, the video was still very usable. The bonus is the included muvee video editing software that lets you edit your movies, and upload them to sites like You Tube. My kids loved using it to record home movies of themselves, and then watch themselves on the big screen.
Overall, the Coby Snapp Cam5002 performed well. At it's given price point, being able to record in HD will make for happy customers and also make for a great Christmas gift. Based on it's quality, price and performance, it has earned our Value Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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